Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews with a heavy emphasis on San Diego. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: The Natural Foods Cookbook

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, January 25, 1997

Review of The Natural Foods Cookbook, with a recipe for Turkish Brain Salad.

AuthorBeatrice Trum Hunter
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Year1961
Length296 pages
Book Rating6

I ran into a library book sale a few weeks ago and got quite a find in thirty-cent cookbooks. You’ll see the rest of them here soon enough as well. I already have Beatrice Trum Hunter’s “Whole Grain Baking Sampler” (currently unreviewed) and have used it extensively, so I snatched up The Natural Foods Cookbook when I saw it for a massive $0.30!

This book was written in 1961, well before the natural foods bandwagon hit full swing. Hunter was most concerned about the adulteration and devitalization of processed foods:

Many physicians are convinced that improper eating habits and devitalized foods are among the most serious contributing factors to the soaring incidence of cancer, heart disease and other degenerative conditions. Modern processing methods remove or destroy the vital nutrients of many foods. Artificial colors, chemical preservatives and a host of other additives further alter their natural qualities. From the consumer’s viewpoint, most of these additives are unnecessary. They have no nutritive value. Foods treated in this manner may appear brighter and may last longer, but the people who eat them don’t.

Whole foods, on the other hand, are not only more nutritious than their processed counterpart, they taste better.

This is not a vegetarian cookbook. The first two recipes are “Liver Spread” and “Liver Pâté”. The “spreads” section then goes on to kidney and “meat”, before heading into seafood spreads and vegetable spreads.

Quite a few items call for nutritional yeast, and many also call for powdered milk. I tend to leave both of those out, with no ill effects, at least on taste. She was, I think working a bit too hard at matching the “enriched” nature of processed foods by adding a little natural enrichment to her own recipes.

After the “spreads” section, it goes into their sibling, the “cracker”. I can say from experience that her wholewheat crackers are far more tasty than the commercial variety. In this book, most of them are whole wheat, millet, and oatmeal. If you have not had homemade, whole grain crackers, I strongly recommend that you try them!

Her “Beverages” rely on the blender, and range from what must have been exotic at the time, such as the carrot-pineapple appetizer, to the downright strange, epitomized by the sauerkraut juice appetizer. She also uses the word “smoothie” to describe her natural shakes, possibly the earliest use of the word that I’ve seen. Her smoothies are made from nuts as much as from fruits.

There are a nice variety of salads and salad dressings, and then soups and soup stock. There is a very rich New England Cheese Soup, as well as a nut soup made in the blender and then heated. Then, to go along with the salads and soups, vegetable entrees and side dishes are presented.

There are only a few “normal” meat recipes and fish recipes, but she includes an entire chapter on “Organ Meats”. There is a section on “brains” and another section on what to do with “leftover brains”. There is method to this madness: you can find normal meat recipes in any cookbook, whereas the nutritious organ meats are relegated to a miscellaneous section or completely ignored. I have to be honest: I have not had the courage to try any of those recipes. “Fowl” recipes, like the meat recipes, are limited, but there are a wide variety of whole grain and vegetable stuffings. Her egg and cheese recipes are fairly standard.

Into the “Dried Beans and Peas” recipes we start getting some fairly new items. There is a great section on lentils, with lentil loaf and Spanish lentils being among the more interesting. “Nut Entrees” includes “nut-cornmeal patties” and “peanut-spinach loaf”. “Grains” and then “Breads” (broken up by a very small chapter on sprouting your own sprouted grains) is where she really hits her stride. Lots of whole wheat recipes, plus millet, rye, corn, barley, soy, oatmeal, and buckwheat make for some of the best breads you’ve ever made.

Rounding out the cookbook are some whole-food desserts, cakes, cookies, pastries, and confections. From an apple crisp that calls for soy grits, through a honey-peanut butter custard, to a pie crust made with yeast and potatoes, Hunter gives us new perspectives on age-old foods. There are also a variety of puddings made with whole grains, as well as cakes and fruit breads and wonderful whole wheat and honey chews.

All in all, if you’re a vegetarian you may be disappointed at the large number of meat recipes. But for taking your taste buds where they’ve never been before, The Natural Foods Cookbook can’t be beat. This is whole foods for the rest of us.

Turkish Brain Salad

  • lettuce leaves,
  • 2 cups precooked and thinly sliced chilled lamb’s brains,
  • 3 tomatoes cut into wedges,
  • 6 radish roses,
  • 1 green pepper cut into strips,
  • juice and rind of 1 lemon,
  • 3 tblsp oil,
  • ½ tsp salt,
  • 1 mint sprig chopped fine.
  1. Arrange lettuce on platter.
  2. Top with brains.
  3. Garnish with tomatoes, radishes, and green peppers.
  4. Blend lemon juice, rind, oil, and salt together and drizzle over top of salad.
  5. Garnish with mint.

The Natural Foods Cookbook

Beatrice Trum Hunter

My cost: $0.30

Recommendation: Great general cookbook

If you enjoyed The Natural Foods Cookbook…

If you enjoy Simon & Schuster, you might also be interested in James Beard’s Fireside Cook Book.